|Wildcat Moms showed support on and off the field|
|Patti Sells | News-Telegram Feature Editor|
Nov. 19, 2006 - It was a rough 2-8 season for Sulphur Springs varsity football players, but Wildcat Moms managed to help make it a special one, nonetheless.
Each Friday, Wildcat moms took turns bringing an after-school meal of sandwiches, chips and desserts for the boys, with Piggly Wiggly providing all the fresh vegetables and fruit.
"It was just a time we could nourish and encourage them," said Kari Smith, who along with Debbie Jenkins and Janeen Francis organized this year's group of mothers. "It's a way for us to get all the mom's involved. And even grandparents, too."
According to Smith, the organization acts as a support group in many ways. When Jenkins' son, Jacob, the Wildcat center, broke his leg in the middle of the season, several mothers offered encouraging words and help to the family during the difficult time.
"When the boys get hurt and they're laying down on the field, it's scary, and it's good to know there are mothers praying," Smith stressed.
Wildcat Moms has worked as an unofficial organization the past two years, with Amy Strawn passing the torch to Smith at the end of last year. The group became official this year, adhering to UIL guidelines and even coming up with a formal logo.
Smith, the mother of #52, senior K.C. Smith, plans to pass down all her Wildcat noisemakers and gear to one of next year's Wildcat Moms, and she encourages others to do the same. Former Wildcat Mom Christy Attaway, the mother of Zane and Zach Attaway, started off this tradition by passing on an infamous, extremely loud-wooden noisemaker to Patti Sells, the mother of #31, defensive player Tanner Higgins. After Friday night's final game, she in turn gave it to Angie Dunn, the mother of upcoming senior Josh Dunn, #9.
Mothers who receive the noisemaker are to add their son's name and football number to the piece, and use it boldly the next season.
"We just want to keep the spirit alive for the boys," Smith said. "Football isn't everything in life, but it is a very real part of their life that not many of them will ever have again."
For Friday's final game meal, Wildcat Moms not only furnished the regular food, but also surprised all the varsity players with T-shirts that had each of the boys' nicknames randomly placed in the outlined "2006." In addition to the T-shirts, senior players received Wildcat-blue fleece blankets with their names and football numbers embroidered on two of the corners.
"Everything we've done has come directly out of the parents' pockets," Smith said. "We haven't bothered or asked anybody for anything. We do this out of goodness and love for our boys. And one day they'll look back and say, 'Look what are Moms did for us,' and they'll see that because football was important to them,it was important to us."
Janeen Francis, mother of #81, Tyler Francis, will oversee next year's Wildcat Moms.